Cardiovascular diseases are among the most common causes of mortality in renal failure patients undergoing haemodialysis. A high turnover rate of the proteoglycan versican, represented by the increased presence of its fragmentation products in plasma, has previously been associated with cardiovascular diseases. The objective of the study was to investigate the association of versican turnover assessed in plasma with survival in haemodialysis patients.

A specific matrix metalloproteinase-generated neo-epitope fragment of versican (VCANM) was measured in plasma of 364 haemodialysis patients with a 5-years follow-up, using a robust competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Association between VCANM plasma concentration and survival was assessed by Kaplan-Meier analysis and adjusted Cox model.

Haemodialysis patients with plasma VCANM concentrations in the lowest quartile had increased risk of death (odds ratio, as compared to the highest quartile: 7.1, p<0.001), with a reduced survival of 152 days compared to 1295 days for patients with plasma VCANM in the highest quartile. Multivariate analysis showed that low VCANM (p<0.001) and older age (p<0.001) predicted death in haemodialysis patients.

Low concentrations of the versican fragment VCANM in plasma were associated with higher risk of death among haemodialysis patients. A possible protective role for the examined versican fragment is suggested.